NU dining program allows students to take out food, reduce waste


Noah Frick-Alofs/Daily Senior Staffer

The Northwestern Dining program, “Choose to Reuse,” is available at Elder Dining Hall. The program, which aims to accommodate students’ busy schedules and reduce paper waste, launched Sept. 11.

Elizabeth Byrne, Assistant Campus Editor

Northwestern Dining launched a new take-out program in Elder Dining Hall this quarter in an effort to reduce paper waste and cater to students’ busy schedules.

The “Choose to Reuse” program launched Sept. 11. To enroll in the program, students pay $5 per year to access take-out containers. The fee covers the cost to supply and replace the containers, said Loren Murphy, NU Dining director of sustainability initiatives.

Murphy said the program was the first step in an effort to eliminate paper product waste from dining halls and contribute to existing sustainability goals. The program comes after NU released its five-year sustainability plan earlier this month.

“It’s really to encourage students to be conscious that … they’re making an impact on the environment,” Murphy said. “(Students can) be a part of the program to help Northwestern with its strategic sustainability goals.”

She added that students can use the take-out service for any meal. To do so, students enter the dining hall and ask the cashier for a clean container to fill up with as much food as they want.

Students without meal plans can still take advantage of the program, Murphy said, but they must pay at the door.

Although Elder is currently the only dining hall on campus that offers the program, Murphy said NU Dining plans to expand the program to both Foster-Walker Complex and Fran’s Cafe in January.

Director of dining Ken Field said he hopes the program will also help reduce crowding in dining halls during Winter Quarter, after 1835 Hinman Ave. closes for construction. He said the program would cater to students who may not have time to sit down and eat.

“We’re trying to anticipate that those students from Hinman are going to be coming to dine at both Allison and Foster-Walker,” Field said. “We think that if we have a carry-out option down there as well, it might help with some of the crowding at the dining halls.”

Field said about 125 to 150 people have enrolled in the program and roughly 35 people use it each day.

Katie Mansur, Associated Student Government’s vice president for sustainability, said the program would have a positive impact on students’ attitudes toward sustainability.

“These programs … can help students with that attitude shift when it comes to how you think about how your impact on the environment affects your everyday life,” the Weinberg senior said. “This is a great example of a very creative solution that both adds convenience and reduces environmental impact.”

Murphy said programs like “Choose to Reuse” have succeeded at other universities and will help significantly reduce the prevalence of single-use products.

“We have so much space on this campus to provide food for so many students that if we’re not being conscious of our impact, we could be harmful to the environment,” she said. “We’re really trying to make moves with our programming to make sure it’s in line with the University strategy.”

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